New DHS Data Reveals 4 Million 'Half-Amnestied' Aliens

By CIS on August 7, 2017

Washington, D.C. (August 7, 2017) – A new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies finds a little-known foreign-born labor force of close to four million people. These workers are not included among the one to two million temporary workers or the estimated seven million illegal workers. These "half-amnestied" aliens have Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allowing them to work legally, but they do not have legal permanent status.

David North, a Center fellow and author of the analysis, bases his estimates on newly released DHS raw immigration data, which also reveals that most of this population receives temporary legal status for reasons unrelated to their skills. They are "as free to move around the labor market as citizens or permanent resident aliens," North writes, and "with a handful of exceptions, they are free of ties to a given employer."

"This is a huge, rarely discussed alien labor force that is all but hidden from the public," North said.

View the full analysis at:

The U.S. immigration system has 58 sub-classifications of EAD holders. The largest categories are DACAs (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), asylum applicants, two subgroups of adjustees, plus workers in Optional Practical Training (i.e. foreign college alumni) and Temporary Protected Status.

The numbers recently made public are of annual issuances, and therefore misleadingly small because most EADs are good for 18 months or longer. That means the published numbers do not reflect the full impact of the EAD population on the labor force at any one time. The estimate of four million is thus a snapshot of the current total number of EAD workers rather than the annual flow of approved applications.

North writes, "The major policy point here is that there is a huge alien workforce that remains unrecognized because it is never seen as a group, the way it should be viewed."

Contact: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8185, [email protected]